I shall never forget November 26, 2014… the day a student told me na wala akong kwenta. It was the first negative and destructive (for me), probably the worst comment I received in my six semesters of teaching.
Our lesson was about perpendicular, parallel and intersecting lines. I got most of the students’ attention, even the group who I had troubles with because of their limited reading capabilities. Most, except one.
For this post, I shall name him Hope.
Hope was the leader of the group aforementioned. I didn’t know if it was out of hatred, but he slammed notebooks to his classmates who were listening to me. He’d go to his group mates and invite them to go outside. With a stare that meant “please stay”, I managed to make them listen again. One of his friends were rewarded by a stamp because he recited with a correct answer. What he did? He slammed a notebook and warned him as if saying “recite once again, and you’ll be damned.”
The first time he had done this, I was incredibly mad. I was so mad that I thought I’d die with a heart attack. This time, I breathed in and out and did what other teachers told me to do: ignore.
However, it came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. He kept on mocking and mocking and hurting and hurting. I could have punished him in ways you could imagine, but I refused to be that kind of person.
I slowly packed my visual aids.
I cried. I did.
My university professors said that once you cried in front of class, once you walk out of class, you lose.
I definitely lost that day. Lost Hope, perhaps.
But is it universal? That teachers shouldn’t show their vulnerability to their students? Some students are too intelligent to take this for granted, so they test the teachers to see who has a greater amount of pride.
Pride? But what is pride?
I went to the hut along our hallway. I sobbed in front of the other teachers. “Hayaan mo na lang.” was the most common advice, but… why would I let go of Hope? Wouldn’t it be a double lose?
That’s why I cried. I was too frustrated. I cared for them so much. I wanted them to learn. I want them to know its importance. To feel how fun it is to learn.
Hindi naman ako iiyak nang sobra kung wala akong pakialam. Maybe, it was time to stop caring.
I wouldn’t lie that I didn’t wish he wouldn’t go to school ever again. I don’t know if I’m the only teacher in this universe who ever felt that. And it felt really bad…so I cried more.
His classmates sent me letters of apology and begged me to return the next day. There was this letter from one of Hope’s friends: Kung hindi ka na papasok sa amin dahil kay Hope, maiintindihan kita, teacher.
I shed another tear, but I stopped after reading that letter. What remained was pain. It tingled until the very last second of the school day.
Even after these students sent me letters, they came to me twice and even thrice to apologize. I had to tell them that they shouldn’t be sorry if they didn’t do something wrong. Two of the students told me that Hope said na wala akong kwenta.
He wasn’t facing me, but he was just three meters away. His friends told me he was sorry, but he wouldn’t just face me. Since I had no pride, I was the one who approached him. I embraced him, cried on his polo shirt and asked, “Why are you so mad at me?”
He didn’t respond. I knew he wouldn’t answer. I didn’t know if my words had an effect; I couldn’t even remember what they were. We just separated ways as soon as he nodded when I asked him if he’d participate the next day. I only wish him peace in his heart. I’ve heard of his battles, and I couldn’t change whatever happened to him.
Maybe, I’m not too ‘adult’ enough.
Last November 26, I think I lost hope. I will still go to school like the other days, pretend that it didn’t happen for the sake of the other students. Be numb for a while. “You’ll get used to it.” they said.
With this… I thought… Maybe… Other teachers have their own November 26’s… That’s why…